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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders (Read 12040 times)
Confused_by_Theory
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #86 - 02/07/19 at 01:04:29
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Hi.

I have been meaning to post something more here but have regretfully not had much time to do analysis. Am doing a lot more time sink heavy tasks at work right now compared to a few months ago and this is the main reason for not working on chess.

Will try to do one final post covering 4.Bf4 fourth move alternatives in the near future I guess.

When it comes to this continuaton after 4...c6:
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 c6 5.Qd2 Qa5 6.Nf3 Bg7(!)
I think it gives black a playable game without much effort. White can apply pressure but black seems generally flexible. Plausibly white can find some kind of advantage by just playing natural moves but how is not clear to me. I tried a lot of continuations but often it seems like white does not put enough pressure. Once black gets to make his most natural moves (Bg7, Nbd7, 0-0 and usually e5) his position makes a lot more sense compared to a few moves earlier.

If this line props up I would probably forego 6.Nf3 and try 6.a3 instead. The main upside being white can then try to not include Nf3. For example:
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 c6 5.Qd2 Qa5 6.a3 Bg7
6...Nbd7 7.Nf3
Now this goes into some lines I covered earlier. Taking away the option of Bg4 is a bit inflexible from black.
7...Bg7
7...e5 8.Bh6 Bxh6 9.Qxh6 exd4 10.Nxd4 Qh5 11.Qd2!? O-O 12.Be2 Qe5 13.f3 (+/ = ) White is at least a little bit more comfortable.
7...b5?! 8.e5 Nh5 9.Be3 dxe5 10.dxe5 Ng7 11.Nd4 Bb7 12.O-O-O O-O-O 13.f4 (+/ - ) Black's position doesn't really make that much sense.
8.Be2 c5
8...e5 9.Bh6 O-O 10.Bxg7!? Kxg7 11.O-O-O (+/ = ) White is very comfortable.
8...O-O 9.Bh6 b5 10.Bxg7!? Kxg7 11.e5 dxe5 12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 b4 14.Nxc6 bxc3 15.Nxa5 cxd2+ 16.Kxd2 (+/ - ) This should be very nice for white with some technique.
9.Be3 Qc7 10.dxc5 Nxc5 11.e5 Nfe4 12.Nxe4 Nxe4 13.Qb4 f5 14.exf6 Nxf6 15.Qb3 d5 16.O-O (+/ = ) to (+/ - ) White looks to have the clear better of it in this IQP position.
7.h4!? b5 8.Rd1!? Nbd7 9.Be2
I'm not sure white is really better but there are dynamics waiting to play out in the position. Supposedly white should have some kind of pull; in the short term at least.

Have a nice day.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #85 - 01/18/19 at 22:42:23
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Hi.

Wow. The forum is back.

If nothing else this means we can have long discussions about the Pirc again.

MNb wrote on 01/14/19 at 07:22:11:
6...Bg7 is worth taking a look. Most interesting is probably 7.O-O-O and while b5? is refuted by 8.e5 Black may try Nbd7, Bg4 and O-O.
It's a bit weird that there are only two games with 7...Nbd7 8.h3 and both saw two strong players blundering with b5?

6...Bg7 appears very relevant. I was focused on Nbd7+e5 plans and missed it of course but on the face of it I think it's a second major way to handle the 4...c6 move order.

White can not, obvously at least, make his main ideas of Bh6, e5 or h4 work well. Some reasonable couple of moves seems in order and then perhaps something active but black should have decent development. I am not sure if there is something very clever for white but your 7.0-0-0 is up there as one of the moves that looks critical.

Have a nice day.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #84 - 01/14/19 at 07:22:11
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Confused_by_Theory wrote on 12/27/18 at 01:38:40:
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 c6 5.Qd2 Qa5 6.Nf3

6...Bg7 is worth taking a look. Most interesting is probably 7.O-O-O and while b5? is refuted by 8.e5 Black may try Nbd7, Bg4 and O-O.
It's a bit weird that there are only two games with 7...Nbd7 8.h3 and both saw two strong players blundering with b5?
  

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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #83 - 12/27/18 at 10:21:36
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Hi.

Leon_Trotsky wrote on 12/27/18 at 05:07:07:
Maybe a bits late to ask. But are you trying to make a White repertoire for 4. Af4, or
various Black repertoires against it ¿ Or both ¿  Cheesy

A white one. If in the process there would be some half-decent black line that got figured out then that's also good.

Good people who both read and recollect will note that only black's fourth move alternatives are not yet looked at. Was hoping to find something comfortable for black up to this point, basically making a dent in my own repertoire, although I haven't really managed.

MNb wrote on 12/27/18 at 07:16:32:
There is yet another option: 6...b4 7.exf6 bxc3 8.Qxc3 and it's exactly here that Bf4 is better placed than Be3.

It is an option but looks bleak for black. In large part because this well placed bishop.

Have a nice day.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #82 - 12/27/18 at 07:16:32
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Confused_by_Theory wrote on 12/27/18 at 01:38:40:
The alternative is to swap queens but this does not really equalise.

There is yet another option: 6...b4 7.exf6 bxc3 8.Qxc3 and it's exactly here that Bf4 is better placed than Be3.
  

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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #81 - 12/27/18 at 05:07:07
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Maybe a bits late to ask. But are you trying to make a White repertoire for 4. Af4, or various Black repertoires against it ¿ Or both ¿  Cheesy
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #80 - 12/27/18 at 01:38:40
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4.Bf4 analysis - Part 5: c6 compactness

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 c6
This is quite clearly a move. A reasonaby important one as well, since there are always a number of types who tries to avoid an early Bg7.
5.Qd2
Playing this seems most flexible. Now black has options.
5...Nbd7!?
Not the most popular but a normal way to keep delaying Bg7. There is not a huge plentitude of alternatives:

5...Bg7 6.Bh6
Transposes to 4...Bg7.

5...Qa5 6.Nf3 Nbd7
Transposes to 5...Nbd7. Also good appears to be 6.a3; although it allows a direct e5 from black somewhat needlessly.

5...Qb6?! 6.O-O-O Bg7 7.Kb1 Nbd7 8.f3 (+/ - )
Black's setup is not optimal.

5...Nh5?! 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 b5 8.g4 Nf6 9.g5 (+/ - )
White is a tempo ahead and this should count for something.

5...h6?! 6.h3 Bg7 7.Nf3 Nbd7?! 8.e5 Nd5 9.Nxd5 cxd5 10.exd6 (+/ - )

With the above being either troublesome or transpositional, if there is an alternative to 5...Nbd7 it is one of the following:

5...b5
This has been tried a couple of times but can be met by a standard idea that somewhat exploits that white is a bit more ready for immediate conflict.
6.e5! (Diagram)

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6...Nh5
The alternative is to swap queens but this does not really equalise.
6...dxe5 7.dxe5 Qxd2+ 8.Bxd2 Nfd7

8...Nh5 9.g3 Nd7 10.Bg2 Nxe5 11.f4 Nd7 12.Nxb5 Rb8 13.Nxa7 (+/ - ) Black is behind.
8...Ng4 9.f4 h5 10.Nf3 Bg7 11.Bd3 a5 12.h3 Nh6 13.O-O-O (+/ - ) Black is not well placed.

9.f4 Nb6

9...Bg7 10.Be2 O-O 11.Bf3 b4 12.Ne4 a5 13.O-O-O (+/ = )
9...Na6 10.g3!? This seems simplest. 10...Bb7 11.Bg2 Rb8 12.O-O-O b4 13.Ne4 c5 14.h4 h5 15.Rh2 Nc7 16.Be3 e6 17.c4 bxc3 18.Nxc3 Bxg2 19.Rxg2 (+/ - )
9...Bb7 10.Nf3 Na6 11.h4 (+/ = )

10.g3 Bg7 11.Bg2 O-O 12.Nge2 b4 13.Ne4 Na6 14.Nf2 Bb7 15.a3 bxa3 16.Rxa3 (+/ = ) White has better pieces.

7.Be3 dxe5
7...Bg7 8.f4 f6 9.Nf3!? O-O 10.Bd3 fxe5 11.fxe5 Nd7 12.a4 b4 13.Ne4 (+/ = )
7...b4 8.Ne4 Bf5 9.Bd3 Nd7 10.f4 a5 11.Nf3 (+/ = )
8.dxe5 Qxd2+ 9.Bxd2 Bg7
9...b4?! 10.Na4 Nd7 11.Nf3 Bg7 12.g4 Nb6 13.gxh5!? Nxa4 14.h6 Bf8 15.a3! Bg4 16.Nd4 Rd8 17.Be3 (+/ - ) Black's position is close to collapse.
9...Bb7 10.f4 Ng7 11.O-O-O Nd7 12.Nh3 a5 13.g3 b4 14.Ne4 c5 15.Bg2 (+/ = )
9...Nd7 10.f4 Bb7

10...b4 11.Na4 e6 12.Be3 Ng7 13.Bf2 Nf5 14.Nf3 (+/ = )

11.Nf3 a6 12.g3 c5 13.Bg2 e6 14.O-O (+/ = ) White should be slightly better.
10.f4 f6 11.exf6
Here white has choice. Also interesting are 11.Be2 and 11.Nf3.
11...Nxf6 12.O-O-O Nbd7 13.Nf3 Nb6 14.Re1 b4 15.Nd1 Nfd5 16.g3 (+/ = ) to (+/ - ) (Diagram) With relatively simple play it looks like white has got a decent size advantage. Black has got a backward pawn and white will relatively quickly get his pieces around to better squares.

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5...Qc7!?
Just making a useful move is not such a dumb idea. It is a bit passive though so I think just playing a normal move will do for white.
6.Nf3
Across many Pirc lines I don't overtly aim for Nf3 setups and instead try to keep open the possibility of moving the f-pawn or developing only later, when the knight development can be easily determined to be best. Here black is not going to become active any time soon but has some basic solidity. Generally I like the idea of playing a simple setup when black is a little bit passive so therefore I give the knight move. By playing Nf3 early we also weave into lines covered under 5...Nbd7.
6...Bg7
Somewhat more consistent with Qc7 is the following developing move - it doesn't work though:
6...Nbd7?! 7.e5 Nh5 8.exd6 exd6 9.O-O-O Nxf4 10.Qxf4 Be7 11.Re1 (+/ - )
7.Bh6 O-O 8.h4 Bxh6
Instead playing to reduce white's attacking potential is not so easy.
8...Bg4 9.Nh2 (+/ - )
9.Qxh6 Ng4 10.Qd2 h5 11.a4!? c5 12.Nd5 Qd8 13.dxc5 dxc5 14.Qg5 Nc6 15.Bb5 e5 16.c3 Kg7 17.Rd1 (+/ = ) (Diagram)
White has played unremarkably. He should be somewhat better though, due to a higher degree of activity compared to black.

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That was some alternatives. Now for what seems to me like the main way of extracting value from the 4...c6 move.
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 c6 5.Qd2 Nbd7
Again I don't mind developing the knight.
6.Nf3 Bg7
6...Qc7 transposes to 5...Qc7.
6...b5 7.e5 b4 8.Na4 Nh5 9.Be3 Qa5 10.b3 dxe5 11.Bc4 (+/ = ) With good compensation in a non-forcing position.
6...Qa5 7.a3!? Bg7
7...e5 8.Bh6 Bxh6 9.Qxh6 exd4 10.Nxd4 Qh5 11.Qd2!? O-O 12.Be2 Qe5 13.f3 (+/ = ) White is at least a little bit more comfortable.
7...b5?! 8.e5 Nh5 9.Be3 dxe5 10.dxe5 Ng7 11.Nd4 Bb7 12.O-O-O O-O-O 13.f4 (+/ - ) Black's position doen't really make that much sense.
8.Be2 c5
8...e5 9.Bh6 O-O 10.Bxg7!? Kxg7 11.O-O-O (+/ = ) White is very comfortable.
8...O-O 9.Bh6 b5 10.Bxg7!? Kxg7 11.e5 dxe5 12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 b4 14.Nxc6 bxc3 15.Nxa5 cxd2+ 16.Kxd2 (+/ - ) This should be very nice for white with some technique.
9.Be3 Qc7 10.dxc5 Nxc5 11.e5 Nfe4 12.Nxe4 Nxe4 13.Qb4 f5 14.exf6 Nxf6 15.Qb3 d5 16.O-O (+/ = ) to (+/ - ) White looks to have the clear better of it in this IQP position.
7.Bh6
It looks like white should go for this. We now actually go into some analysis from Marin in his 2017 repertoire book on the Pirc.
7...0-0
7...Bxh6 8.Qxh6 Transposes all the way to 4...Bg7. Please remember though; putting the knight on d7 early is probably not the best way to play this Bxh6 setup.
8.e5!?
There is a bit of a choice here. Still a lot of the white moves don't seem obviously threatening to me. Black is after all just a few moves from starting his own play now and has sensible pieces so white may well need to be exact.
8.Bxg7 is given by Marin and seems equivalent as black should probably aim for the same variation in both continuations. It allows different side-variations though. I won't go in to much detail as I prefer "risking" more open play after 8.e5!?
8...dxe5
A definite option is:
8...Bxh6!? 9.Qxh6 dxe5 10.O-O-O!
White sacrifices and plays for long term attacking chances. Now I found two palpable lines for black and many others where he just loses. I will give the two reasonable ones and refer to a future analysis file for the rest.
10...Ng4
10...exd4 11.Rxd4 e5 12.Rh4 Re8 13.Ng5 Nf8 14.Bc4 Be6 15.Bxe6 fxe6 16.Re1 Qe7 17.Rxe5 Rad8 18.Re1 (+/ = )
11.Qh4 exd4 12.Rxd4 h5 13.Bc4!? Ngf6 14.Qg5 Kg7 15.Ne2!? e5 16.Nxe5 Nd5 17.Qxd8!? Rxd8 18.Nxd7 Rxd7 19.Bxd5 Rxd5 20.Rxd5 cxd5 21.Nd4 Bd7 22.Re1 (+/ = )
White is somewhat better in a simplified position.
9.Bxg7 Kxg7 10.dxe5 Ng4
10...Nd5 11.O-O-O N7b6 12.Ne4 Bf5 13.Ng3 e6 14.h4 (+/ - )
11.O-O-O Qb6 12.e6! (Diagram)
As given by Marin.

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One can also consider:
12.h3 Ngxe5 13.Nxe5 Nxe5 14.f4 Nd7 15.g4 ; which gives ok compensation. The other way of sacrificing seems more enticing though.

12...Ndf6!

12...fxe6?! 13.h3 Nxf2 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Qxf2 Qf4+ 16.Kb1 Qxa4 17.h4!
White should be able to build up serious pressure after this. The two extra pawns are not very important positionally. For example:
17...Qf4 18.h5 g5 19.h6+! Kh8 20.Qe1 (+/ - )
White has very good compensation for the two pawns. Black's position is seriously at risk of collapsing.
13.exf7
13.h3 Nxf2 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Qxf2 Qf4+ 16.Kb1 Qxa4 17.exf7 Be6 18.a3 Bxf7 (=) Should be ok for black, as indicated by Marin.
13...Qxf2 14.Bc4 b5 15.Bb3 Qxd2+ 16.Rxd2 (Diagram)

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A position where white can push but where it is also not entirely clear if this will translate to something tangible. All in all I have no huge wisdom to share here. As white play reasonable moves and try to put pressure on black. Black will have to defend somewhat in practically all decent continuations. This makes it all a matter of choice for white at this point (mostly). Black has somewhat of a choice at this specific point as well though...

16...a6 (! - Marin)
This prepares c5-c4, disrupting a good white piece. Instead:

16...a5!? 17.a3 Ra7

17...b4?! 18.Na4 Nd5 19.Re1! Rxf7 20.Bxd5 cxd5 21.Nb6 Rb8 22.Nxc8 bxa3 23.bxa3 Rxc8 24.Rxd5 (+/ = ) White is more active and it is not obvious how black initiates liquidations in an effective manner.
18.h3!? Nh6 19.Re1 b4 20.Na4 Nxf7 21.Rde2 (+/ = ) With good compensation.

17.h3!?
I would be tempted to play this. It appears to be a very banal continuation so the appeal is clear.
17.Re1 is covered by Marin as main move while he does give 17.h3 in a note. Yet...
17...Nh6 18.g4!?
Is not mentioned (only 18.Ng5). I would probably play it though since it appears to me it counters black's current main positional idea of c5-c4. How you may ask? Well. There is a fork coming so even if black traps the b3 bishop it would not be in a complexity-free environment. He can also try to forget the c5-c4 plan, but then it is not obvious he has played in the best manner as I see it.
18...c5
18...a5!? 19.g5 a4 20.gxh6+ Kxh6 21.Bxa4 bxa4 22.Re1 Kg7 23.h4 a3 24.b3 (+/ = )
White seems more compact in the play to come. I think he should have a small advantage.

18...Nxf7 19.Re1 e6
19...e5 20.Bxf7 Rxf7 21.Nxe5 Re7 22.Rd6 (+/ = ) White is very active.
20.Bxe6 Bxe6
20...Re8 21.Bxf7 Rxe1+ 22.Nxe1 Kxf7 23.Rd6!? (+/ = ) White is more active and black has weakened himself at least slightly.
21.Rxe6 Rac8 22.g5!? Nh5 23.Rd7 (+/ = )
White has got real activity. I think this is risky for black.

19.g5 c4 20.Bxc4 bxc4 21.gxh6+ Kxh6 22.Re1 Kg7 23.h4 (+/ = ) (Diagram)
Potentially black is ok but this looks comfortable for white.

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That is it for 4...c6 I think.

Have a nice night.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #79 - 12/13/18 at 09:33:53
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MNb wrote on 12/08/18 at 19:26:44:
Another important question is when exactly to play f2-f3. CbT gives 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.Bh6 b5 8.f3 while I'd arrive via 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.f3 b5 (best move anyway - without this move Black can't develop sufficient counterplay) 8.Bh6. However iso 8.Bh6 White has an equally dangerous move, namely 8.h4 when h5 is best. With the bishop on f4 iso e3 the line has never been tried afaIk.


Confused_by_Theory wrote on 12/12/18 at 21:35:39:
If 8...h5 is best ....
Maybe the same idea can even work with the bishop on e3 also.

You're right: especially when starting the typical sacrificial attack with g2-g4 it might make a difference having the bishop on e3 or f4.
Other moves than 8...h5 allow White the very, very nice choice between playing h4-h5 at once or playing Be3(f4)-h6 transposing. That choice is denied to White when Black plays 5...c6 6.Bh6 O-O. And that again makes it important to look at other moves than 7.O-O-O.
Mover order here is important, all the more because there are no clear answers.
I'm looking forward to your posts about 4...c6, because it seems to me that it's here that the benefits of 4.Bf4 iso 4.Be3 become clear.
  

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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #78 - 12/12/18 at 21:39:47
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Hi.

4...c6 was the next thing to look at here. It will be a few days. As I recall we looked at this at some point though, so it shouldn't be horribly hard.

Have a nice day.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #77 - 12/12/18 at 21:35:39
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Hi.

MNb wrote on 12/08/18 at 18:05:36:
It should be noted that 5...O-O 6.Bh6 c6 is especially important because of 5...c6 6.Bh6 O-O.
Indeed.

MNb wrote on 12/08/18 at 19:26:44:
Another important question is when exactly to play f2-f3. CbT gives 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.Bh6 b5 8.f3 while I'd arrive via 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.f3 b5 (best move anyway - without this move Black can't develop sufficient counterplay) 8.Bh6. However iso 8.Bh6 White has an equally dangerous move, namely 8.h4 when h5 is best. With the bishop on f4 iso e3 the line has never been tried afaIk.
If 8...h5 is best then something like this seems like easy initiative for white:
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 0-0 6.0-0-0 c6 7.f3 b5 8.h4 h5 9.Nce2!? Nbd7
Other moves are similar.
10.g4 hxg4 11.Ng3!

Maybe the same idea can even work with the bishop on e3 also.

MNb wrote on 12/08/18 at 19:26:44:
More important is 8...Be6 (not mentioned by CbT) 9.h4 Qa5 10.h5 transposing to 8...Qa5. Black won in Jeras-Vavpetic, SLO 1996 with 9...Nbd7 10.Kb1 (10.h5!? but White had played Kb1 at an earlier stage) Nb6 11.h5 b4 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.hxg6 fxg6 14.Qh6+ Kg8 15.Nce2 (15.e5!?) Na4 but 16.Nh3 looks strong.
I Missed that move in the post. Did look at it though and I think both transposing to 8...Qa5 and the following looks good:
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 0-0 6.0-0-0 c6 7.Bh6 b5 8.f3 Be6 9.Bxg7 Kxg7 10.d5
White seems better.

MNb wrote on 12/08/18 at 19:26:44:
8...Qa5 9.h4 (9.Kb1? Bxh6 10.Qxh6 Be6! Mola-Sarno, Arvier 2003) b4 10.Nb1 (no a7-a5-a4 here; not that White had a choice) and according to IM Vigus Ba6 is critical; CbT and I agree: 11.h5 Bxf1 12.Rxf1 Nbd7 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.Qh6+ Kg8 16.Nh3 Rf7 17.Ng5 Rg7 Ulbig-Mehlhorn, corr 2016, 18.f4 Nf8 is unclear (Vigus). CbT's 15.Nh3 is an attempt to improve; after Qxa2 16.Ng5 Kg8 (CbT) I suggest 17.Rh6!?
Another attacking idea is 11.Bxa6 (iso 11.h5) Nxa6 12.h5 Nc7 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.Ne2 Ne6 15.hxg6 fxg6 16.Qh6+ Kg8 17.Qh3 Tornow-Mehlhorn, corr 2017.

This also seems good. Compared to my 17.Re1 a bit more direct as well. Maybe easier overall.

Have a nice day.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #76 - 12/08/18 at 19:26:44
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Another important question is when exactly to play f2-f3. CbT gives 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2 O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.Bh6 b5 8.f3 while I'd arrive via 4.Be3 Bg7 5.Qd2 O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.f3 b5 (best move anyway - without this move Black can't develop sufficient counterplay) 8.Bh6. However iso 8.Bh6 White has an equally dangerous move, namely 8.h4 when h5 is best. With the bishop on f4 iso e3 the line has never been tried afaIk.
Black has two more options at move 8 (assuming White has played Bh6).

8...a5 9.h4 Nbd7 10.h5 a4 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.hxg6 fxg6 13.Qh6+ Kg8 14.e5 is a typical idea to decide the game.

More important is 8...Be6 (not mentioned by CbT) 9.h4 Qa5 10.h5 transposing to 8...Qa5. Black won in Jeras-Vavpetic, SLO 1996 with 9...Nbd7 10.Kb1 (10.h5!? but White had played Kb1 at an earlier stage) Nb6 11.h5 b4 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.hxg6 fxg6 14.Qh6+ Kg8 15.Nce2 (15.e5!?) Na4 but 16.Nh3 looks strong.

The two moves presented by CbT are the most important ones:

8...b4 9.Nce2 (I distrust 9.Nb1 because indeed the knight is misplaced here and Black hence can try a5!? as in Ginzburg-Scalise, Villa Martelli 2000) and the main line of my analysis runs Qa5 10.Kb1 Be6 (Black does amazingly well in practice) 11.Nc1 Nbd7 12.h4 (makes me kind of wish I'd played it on the 8th move) Rfc8 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.h5 Nxh5 15.g4 Nhf6 16.Qh6+ Kg8 Guido-Gaido, Montecatini Terme 1994, and I like 17.g5 Nh5 18.f4 Bg4 19.Be2 and White has his/her attack going.

8...Qa5 9.h4 (9.Kb1? Bxh6 10.Qxh6 Be6! Mola-Sarno, Arvier 2003) b4 10.Nb1 (no a7-a5-a4 here; not that White had a choice) and according to IM Vigus Ba6 is critical; CbT and I agree: 11.h5 Bxf1 12.Rxf1 Nbd7 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.Qh6+ Kg8 16.Nh3 Rf7 17.Ng5 Rg7 Ulbig-Mehlhorn, corr 2016, 18.f4 Nf8 is unclear (Vigus). CbT's 15.Nh3 is an attempt to improve; after Qxa2 16.Ng5 Kg8 (CbT) I suggest 17.Rh6!?
Another attacking idea is 11.Bxa6 (iso 11.h5) Nxa6 12.h5 Nc7 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.Ne2 Ne6 15.hxg6 fxg6 16.Qh6+ Kg8 17.Qh3 Tornow-Mehlhorn, corr 2017.

It's peculiar that Black apparently gets to decide whether White will play Nb1 (a pawn sacrifice already known by the Argentinean players who pioneered this variation via 4.f3 and 5.Be3) or Nce2. Often White will transpose after 8.h4 (iso Bh6) by playing Bh6 a bit later, but equally often the typical pawn sac 9.h5 is dangerous. It's not clear to me which is stronger and again the transposition 5...c6 6.Bh6 O-O plays an important role - can White postpone castling queenside? That might allow Donner's defense with ...e5 and ...Qe7 again.
  

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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #75 - 12/08/18 at 18:05:36
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It should be noted that 5...O-O 6.Bh6 c6 is especially important because of 5...c6 6.Bh6 O-O.
After 5...O-O 6.Bh6 Black has other moves and especially Bxh6 7.Qxh6 e5 deserves attention; as shown in Ree-Donner, NEDch 1967 Black's position is extremely hard to crack when the queen goes to e7. This is an underrated but very important defensive idea after Be3 (or Bf4 or Bg5) -h6, assuming that Black has castled.
Obviously 5...O-O 6.O-O-O c6 7.Bh6 Bxh6 8.Qxh6 e5?? and 7.f3 b5 8.Bh6 Bxh6 9.Qxh6 e5?? don't work.
  

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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #74 - 12/08/18 at 16:24:21
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Part 4: Castling - when our opponent does it we hope it's less good

1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.Qd2
This again. But what if instead of 5...c6 black tries:

(A2) 5...0-0
Both natural and in some ways quite flexible move. No pieces or pawns have had their places determined. Black's hope is that he will know better what will be a judicious setup for him after he has seen one more move from white. While in a more general sense this can be part of good strategy castling actually gives white attacking possibilities. Starting at move six I recommend:
6.0-0-0 (Diagram)

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6.Bh6
Is another way of going about things. One of the main points is that
6...c6 7.h4
Is dangerous for black and pretty much forces him to go forego his most active plan involving moving the b-pawn due to:
7...b5 8.Bxg7 Kxg7 9.h5
White has good initiative despite not having done much for his position besides playing the typical hack moves.

Not a bad alternative overall really. Check John Shaw's book for more lines.

6...c6
After white's castling playing for an immediate c5 or e5 becomes problematic. This has made 6...c6 black's main way of handling the position.
7.Bh6
Of similar value appears to be 7.f3. Black can't really do much but accept the fact that he is going to be under some pressure on the kingside. Probably he should go 7...b5. The following radical way of playing would not be so dumb if it worked as intended; neutralising white's kingside chances before they even became something tangible. The problem is that white is not forced to play for hack attacks in order to disturb black's position.
7.f3 h5!? 8.Kb1! b5 9.e5 dxe5 10.dxe5 Qxd2 11.Bxd2 Ne8 12.f4 (+/=) White is better.
7.Kb1 b5 8.f3 Seems less flexible compared to 7.Bh6.
7...b5
Alternatives look problematic.

7...Qa5 8.h4! Bxh6 9.Qxh6 Ng4
9...b5 10.h5 Ng4 11.Qd2 (+/ - ) Black does not have enough compensation.
10.Qd2 c5 11.dxc5!?
11.f3 cxd4 12.Nd5!? Qxd2+ 13.Rxd2 Ne3 14.Nxe7+ Kg7 15.Ne2 Be6 16.Nxd4 Re8 17.Nd5 Bxd5 18.exd5 (+/ = ) Black is a pawn down for not much. Technically this should be good for white.
11...Qxc5 12.Nh3 Be6 13.h5 (+/ = ) With a good amount of positional pressure for white.

7...Bxh6 8.Qxh6 b5
8...Qa5 9.h4 Transposes to 7...Qa5.
8...Ng4 9.Qd2 b5; 9...Qa5 10.Nf3 Nd7 11.h3 Ngf6 12.Qh6 (+/ - ) Black has problems positionally.; 10.h4 b4 11.Nb1 Nf6 12.h5! Nxe4 13.Qh6 g5 14.Bd3 f5 15.Bxe4 fxe4 16.Qxg5+ Kh8 17.Nd2 (+/ - ) Black has an unenviable position.
9.e5!?
This becomes pretty forcing since black can not afford to have his pieces driven back. Instead:
9.f3 b4 10.Nb1 Transposes to 7...b5.
9...dxe5 10.dxe5 Ng4 11.Qh4! Qc7
11...Qb6 12.Ne4 Qc7 13.Nf3 Na6 14.e6 Bxe6 15.Nfg5 h5 16.h3 Nf6 17.Nxe6 fxe6 18.Ng5 Qa5 19.Kb1 Rad8 20.Be2 (+/ = ) With good positional compensation.
12.Nf3 Nxe5 13.Be2 Nxf3
This seems best. Instead:
13...a5 14.Ng5 h5 15.Qg3 f6 16.Nf3 Kh7 17.Rhe1 Ra7 18.Nh4 g5 19.Bxh5 Rg8 20.Nf3 (+/ = ) With some advantage for white in a slightly strange position.
13...Na6 14.Nxe5 Qxe5 15.Rhe1 Qc7 16.Bf3 Be6 17.Qh6 Rad8 18.Re4 Bf5 19.Rh4 g5 20.Qxg5+ Bg6 21.Rhd4 Rxd4 22.Rxd4 b4 23.Ne4 (+/ = ) White has better centralisation and less weaknesses.
13...Ng4!? 14.Ne4 f6!? 15.h3!? Ne5 16.Nxe5 Qxe5 17.Rhe1 Qc7 18.Nc3 a6 19.f4 (+/ = ) Since black has weakened his kingside and white is well placed with his pieces this will be good compensation.
14.Bxf3 Be6
14...Na6 15.Rhe1 Be6 transposes.
15.Rhe1 Na6
15...Nd7 16.Qxe7 Qf4+ 17.Rd2 Nb6 18.Re4 Qxh2 19.Rh4 Qe5 20.Bxc6 (+/ - ) White is a lot more active.
16.Qh6 Rad8 17.Re4 Bf5 18.Rh4 g5 19.Qxg5+ Bg6 20.Re1 (+/ = ) White should be somewhat better.

8.f3 b4

It is not obvious what is best here for black. A serious alternative exists in 8...Qa5. This was also the 2009 "Dangerous Weapons The Pirc And The Modern" recommendation.

8...Qa5 9.h4!
9.Kb1?! Bxh6 10.Qxh6 Be6 11.e5 dxe5 12.dxe5 b4 13.exf6 exf6 14.Nge2 bxc3 15.Nxc3 Nd7 (=) Black is OK.
9.Bxg7?! Kxg7 10.e5 dxe5 11.dxe5 Ng8 Neither side is greatly placed. Black should be about OK.
9...b4
I could find little better.

9...Be6 10.h5 b4 11.Nb1 Nbd7 12.Bxg7 Kxg7 13.a3!?
Maybe a bit simpler compared to 13.hxg6 in DW: Pirc Modern. Basically I am not really impressed by black's position and think white can play calmly.
13...Rab8 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.b3 (+/ = ) (Diagram)
White should be able to absorb active attempts by black. If he can play a long middlegame it looks to me like black will have more weaknesses to worry about.

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9...Bxh6 10.Qxh6 b4 11.Nb1 Ba6 12.Nh3!? Bxf1 13.Rdxf1 Qh5 14.Qd2 Nbd7
14...Qa5 15.h5 Nxh5 16.Qh6 f6 17.f4 Rf7 18.f5 (+/ - ) With great pressure for the pawn.
15.e5 dxe5 16.g4 Qxh4 17.Rfg1 h6 18.dxe5 Nxe5 19.Nf2 Nxf3 20.Rxh4 Nxd2 21.Nxd2 (+/ - ) There is not enough compensation.

9...Nbd7 10.h5 b4 11.Nb1 (+/ = ) As given by Vigus 2009 is a decent initiative for white.

10.Nb1 Ba6
It makes sense on a positional level to exchange the bishops like this and it is the mainline in DW: Pirc Modern. I have an idea of how to face it but before this is discussed it makes sense to note that there are quite a few alternatives; although most are quite bad.

10...Qxa2
Is not such an important pawn. I will give my mainline of analysis and refer to a future analysis file for more.
11.h5 Nbd7 12.g4 a5 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.Qh6+ Kg8 16.g5 a4 17.gxf6 Nxf6 18.e5 Nh5 19.Bd3 Qf7 20.Ne2 Bf5 21.Bxf5 Qxf5 22.Rdg1 Kh8 23.Ng3 Qf4+ 24.Qxf4 Nxf4 25.Nd2 (+/ - ) Black does not have full compensation.

10...Bxh6 11.Qxh6 Rd8?
DW: Pirc Modern p.21 This was briefly mentioned in DW: Pirc Modern but seems way to risky.
12.h5 Qxa2 13.g4 (+/ - ) Black will get crushed on the kingside.

10...Nh5 11.Ne2 Ba6 12.Bxg7 Nxg7 13.a3 Nd7 14.axb4 (+/ - )
10...Be6 11.h5 Transposes to 9...Be6

11.Bxg7
11.Nh3?! Bxf1 12.Rdxf1 Qxa2 (∞) White does not appear to have anything great even if he has his pieces positioned quite well.
11...Kxg7 12.h5 Bxf1 13.Rxf1 Nbd7 14.hxg6 fxg6 15.Nh3!
Not exactly caring about black's play and just getting an important piece in play. 15.Qh6+ is covered in DW: Pirc Modern and also looks good.
15...Qxa2
15...Kg8 16.Re1! e5 17.dxe5 dxe5 18.Rd1 (+/ - ) White is very much for choice.
15...c5 16.Ng5 Qxa2 17.Nxh7 Nxh7 18.Qh6+ Kf7 19.Qxh7+ Ke8 20.Qxg6+ Qf7 21.Qxf7+ Kxf7 22.dxc5 Nxc5 23.Nd2 (+/ - )
16.Ng5 Kg8 17.Re1 Nb6
17...e5? 18.Rh6 a5 19.Reh1 a4 20.Nxh7! a3 21.Nxf6+ Nxf6 22.Qg5 Qxb2+ 23.Kd2 Qxd4+ 24.Kc1 Qb2+ 25.Kd1 Qxb1+ 26.Kd2 Nxe4+ 27.fxe4 Rf2+ 28.Ke3 Re2+ 29.Kxe2 Qxc2+ 30.Ke3 Qc5+ 31.Kf3 Rf8+ 32.Kg4 Rf4+ 33.Kh3 Qe3+ 34.g3 Qxe4 35.Qd8+ Rf8 36.Rh8+ Kxh8 37.Qxf8+ Kh7 38.Rf1 Qf5+ 39.Rxf5 gxf5 40.Qxf5+ (+ - ) White wins.
18.b3 a5 19.e5 dxe5 20.Qd3 e4
20...a4 21.Rxh7! e4 22.Rxe4 Nxh7 23.Re6 Rf7 24.Rxg6+ Kf8 25.Ne6+ Ke8 26.Rg8+ Nf8 27.Qg6 (+ - )
21.Rxe4 Nbd5 22.Reh4 Rf7 23.Nxf7 Kxf7 24.Rxh7+ Ke6 25.Qxg6 (+/ - ) White is better in a strange position.

9.Nb1!?
White does somewhat misplace his knight and going 9.Nce2 might be stronger. Now it does look like black should invite white's queen though and that is in some ways potentially a bit risky.
9...Bxh6
9...Ba6 10.Bxg7 Kxg7 11.Qxb4 (+/ = )
9...Nbd7 10.h4 e5 11.Bxg7 Kxg7 12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Qxb4 d5 14.Nc3 Be6 15.Nge2 (+/ - )
9...Qb6 10.h4 Nh5 11.Rh2 f5 12.Bc4+ d5 13.exd5 (+/ - )
9...Qa5 10.h4 Transposes to 8...Qa5.
10.Qxh6
Black, who has played a bit risky so far, now needs to play something smart and anticipate a white initiative. If he does not do this he risks losing quite fast. There are two moves.
10...Qc7!
10...Kh8!? 11.h4 Rg8 12.g4 (+/ = ) White should be a little better thanks to his space advantage. Play is very non-forcing so providing a clear projection of what play might look like seems hard.
11.h4 c5 12.Ne2 cxd4 13.Nxd4 Nc6 14.h5 (Diagram)
This looks like a good place to take stock of the position. Both sides will try to attack and if white wants something he probably needs to display some accuracy in the play to come.

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14...Ne5
14...Nxd4? 15.Rxd4 Nxh5 16.g4 Nf6 17.Rd2!? Qb6 18.e5 dxe5 19.g5 Nh5 20.Bd3 Bb7 21.Rxh5 Qg1+ 22.Rd1 Qxd1+ 23.Kxd1 Bxf3+ 24.Be2 Bxh5 25.Bxh5 gxh5 26.Qxh5 (+ - )
15.g4
Remarkably white's possibilities looks to be diminished if he plays even one slow move e.g.
15.Nd2?! 15...a5! 16.g4 a4 17.hxg6 fxg6 18.g5 Nh5 19.Rxh5 gxh5 20.Bc4+ Nxc4 21.Nb5 Qb7 22.Nxc4 b3 23.g6 e5 24.Nbxd6 Qg7 25.gxh7+ Kh8 26.Nf7+ Qxf7 27.Nxe5 Qf4+ 28.Qxf4 Rxf4 29.Ng6+ Kxh7 30.Nxf4 bxa2 (∞)
Black has two dangerous passers which collude to give him counterchances.
15...Bd7
15...a5 16.Bh3! e6 17.Qg5 Qd8 18.Qh4 gxh5 19.gxh5 Kh8 20.f4 Ned7 21.Bxe6 fxe6 22.Nxe6 Qe8 23.Nxf8 Qxf8 24.Rhe1 (+/ = ) White seems better, potentially much so, even if the position has not been totally resolved.
16.Nd2
Only now after black played a relatively slow last move does this knight come out.
16...Kh8 17.Bb5 Rg8
17...a5 18.hxg6 fxg6 19.Nc4 Nxc4 20.g5 Rf7 21.gxf6 Bxb5 22.Nxb5 Qc5 23.Rd5 Qe3+ 24.Qxe3 Nxe3 (+/=) May be preferable but still looks to lead to clearly worse endgames.
18.hxg6 fxg6 19.Kb1 a5 20.Bxd7 Qxd7 21.Nf1 a4! (Diagram)
It is important for black to do something before white gets his pieces in order.

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22.Ne3 a3
22...b3 23.cxb3 axb3 24.a3 Rg7 25.Nd5 (+/ - ) Changes to little.
23.b3 e6 24.Ng2!?
There are lots of interesting continuations here and a deep analysis might prove fruitful. I settled for this mildly mysterious knight move though, since it allows the queen to centralise.

24.f4 Is probably to direct.
24.Qh2 looks like an alternative, though I reckon the queen will get involved anyway.

24...Rg7 25.Qe3!? (+/=) (Diagram)

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Is a position where white keeps control and should likely be somewhat better. Black does have weaknesses and there there is quite literally lots of room for white to manouvre as the game goes on.

Have a nice day.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #73 - 11/29/18 at 05:40:06
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Hi.

MNb wrote on 11/29/18 at 04:57:18:
10.O-O-O still is a great find.
It made several of my days very nice!

Very nice even. Smiley

For me I too find it an uplifting find. Have yet to have the chance to play it though. Despite having gone something like 4.Be3, 4.Bg5, 4.Bf4, 4.Bg5 in my last (white) Pirc games. Some day... Roll Eyes

Have a nice day.
  
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Re: Pirc 4 Bf4: Best Lines/Move Orders
Reply #72 - 11/29/18 at 04:57:18
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10.O-O-O still is a great find.
It made several of my days very nice!
  

The book had the effect good books usually have: it made the stupids more stupid, the intelligent more intelligent and the other thousands of readers remained unchanged.
GC Lichtenberg
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